Natfhe campaigns against gagging clauses

December 4, 1998

Lecturers are still subject to sweeping gagging clauses two years after Lord Nolan's committee of standards in public life explicitly ruled them out as "unacceptable".

"Confidential information I shall include all information which has been specifically designated as confidential by the institution... the disclosure of which would embarrass, harm or prejudice the institution," says the current standard national contract for lecturers in new universities and colleges.

In May 1996, Nolan said: "We consider this clause to be unacceptably wide and will tend to inhibit staff from raising concerns in the public interest, even with the proper authorities ... Protecting institutions from embarrassment cannot be weighed in the balance with ensuring the proper conduct of public business."

To coincide with the publication of whistleblowing guidelines under the protection of the new Public Interest Disclosure Act, which protects whistleblowers from victimisation, lecturers' union Natfhe is pressing institutions to remove gagging clauses from contracts.

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